Pairings drawn for talented field at Wabash Valley Classic

Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Northview head coach Ernie Maesch talks to the media during Tuesday's press conference for the Wabash Valley Pizza Hut Classic. The Knights have an opening contest with Monrovia.

By Travis David

For the Brazil Times

TERRE HAUTE -- Pairings for the 2008 Pizza Hut Wabash Valley Classic were announced Tuesday afternoon at host school Terre Haute South.

Former Terre Haute South and Indiana University standout, Brian Evans was the special guest to draw the teams in the 16-team blind draw tournament.

The tournament, which is four days, will start on Friday, Dec. 26, with eight games and will conclude with four games on Tuesday, Dec. 30.

Shakamak, which has not participated in the annual prestigious tournament in the past three seasons, will kick off the classic against Turkey Run at 10 a.m.

First-year Lakers coach, Steve Brett said jokingly he had a feeling they would draw the Warriors.

"Well I knew we would draw them off the bat," Brett said laughing. "I was up here last season and scouted them, while I was at Loogootee. We don't really know a whole lot about them, but I like the look of them. They are very well coached."

Brett mentioned that he was actually scouting Bloomfield at the tournament last season, as the Cardinals and Lions are on each others schedule each season.

The Warriors are coached by former Lakers' coach, Joey Hart, a Union (Dugger) graduate.

In other local ties, Linton-Stockton will square off against Class 4A power Terre Haute North, in game 2 starting at 11:30 a.m.. The Patriots finished fourth last season in the classic with a 3-1 mark -- their only defeat was a second round loss to eventual champions Terre Haute South.

"This is just a good experience for our kids," Miners coach Darren Clayton said. "We have the opportunity to play against a team with a good tradition in North."

Bloomfield, who is one of the charter teams in the annual tournament, will face West Vigo in game six of the tournament at 5:30 p.m.

"This is always a good tournament for us," Cardinals coach Ron McBride said. "It is a foothold on what the sectional will be like. West Vigo looked good last year, and will be a tough test for us. They play hard."

Last year, the Cardinals finished with a 2-2 mark, falling to Northview in the consolation championship game. The Cardinals opened up against South in their first round game. The Vikings finished 1-2 in last year's classic losing to runner up Rockville and the fourth place Patriots.

"The bottom half of the bracket is just loaded with talented teams and will be hard to advance out of," first year Vikings coach Joe Boehler said.. "And coach McBride always has very disciplined teams and they create some exciting games."

The other teams in the bottom half of the bracket that Boehler was eluding too was Terre Haute South who will square off with South Vermillion. Marshall, who fell to South in the title game last season, will face Owen Valley and Rockville, who is ranked No. 2 in the Class A polls, will face Casey-Westfield in the final game on Friday.

Other games in the top bracket features Northview against Monrovia in game three at 1 p.m. and Riverton Parke against Sullivan in game four at 2:30 p.m.

New Northview coach Ernie Maesch, who coached Shakamak the previous four seasons said he was glad to see the Lakers get back in the tournament.

"It's great that they are back in it," Maesch said of his former team. "I did everything that I could the last couple seasons to get Shakamak back in. Then I was anticipating still coaching there before this position became available."

Maesch guided the Lakers to two sectional championships and one regional crown in his four-year stint at Shakamak. He piled a 64-34 record at helms including a 10-4 post-season mark.

Maesch decided to leave Shakamak after last season when he found out about the opening at his former alma mater. He said he was glad that his new team did not draw his former team in the classic.

"I wanted to avoid having to play them from the start," Maesch said. "But it would be a good thing if we meet cause that would mean that we both would have beaten two good teams to face each other."

The Knights and Lakers are both in the upper bracket and would square off against each other if both would win their first two games.

As for their first game, Maesch said his team will have a tough task.

"We played against them when I was at Shakamak," Maesch said of the Bulldogs. "They are very disciplined and are tough to play against.

"It's good for us to play against other teams that we would not normally face in the regular season. It's a great atmosphere here and we are just going to take it one game at a time."

With the addition to Shakamak to the tournament this season, Gary Fears -- the Tournament Committee Chairman -- said the classic is shaping up to be the most exciting one in recent years.

"We are pleased the Shakamak Lakers are returning after a three-year absence," Fears said. "Without question this is the strongest field we have had take part in the classic over the past nine years."

Brett said he can remember when the tournament was just called the Wabash Valley Tournament and with the level of competition now it is very similar.

"The tournament back then had everyone talking about it and now this tournament is the same," Brett said. "It's a highly competitive tournament and it really reminds me of the single class state tournament with teams of all different enrollments."

McBride said its just for his team as with the caliber of teams they face will prepare them for the state tournament.

"A tournament like this the teams here will definitely expose your weaknesses," McBride said. "We just want to use this experience to gear us up for the second half of the season.

"You will see a lot of Division I athletes in this tournament, and there are a lot of teams here that will be challenging for a state title as well."

Tournament passes will be sold at each participating high school and will be $17 for all 28 games. A daily ticket can also be purchased for $6 good for all games on that particular day. Each school is guaranteed at least three games (to be played one a day) and a maximum of four games.

Wabash Valley Pizza Hut Classic

Friday, Dec. 26

At Terre Haute South

Game 1: Shakamak vs. Turkey Run, 10 a.m.

Game 2: Linton-Stockton vs. Terre Haute North, 11:30 a.m..

Game 3: Monrovia vs. Northview, 1 p.m.

Game 4: Riverton Parke vs. Sullivan, 2:30 p.m.

Game 5: South Vermillion vs. Terre Haute South, 4 p.m.

Game 6: West Vigo vs. Bloomfield, 5:30 p.m.

Game 7: Marshall vs. Owen Valley, 7 p.m.

Game 8: Casey-Westfield vs. Rockville, 8:30 p.m.

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